AS THE federal government shutdown enters a third week, cutting off funds for so-called “non-essential” government services, it’s more and more clear that what those in power consider “non-essential” is very different from what we do.Educational programs like Head Start, nutrition assistance to women and children, national parks, some medical services at the National Institutes of Health–all are among the many services closed down outright or facing the threat of their funding running out during the shutdown.
But at the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees and Customs and Border Protection agents are “still…around to enforce immigration law because the operations are ‘necessary for safety of life and protection of property,'” Back in the game, according to Alternet’s Esther Yu-Hsi Lee. This means that ICE agents are still arresting and deporting some 1,120 immigrants per day.Ruthie Epstein, a policy analyst for the ACLU, told Common Dreams, “Immigration and Customs Enforcement told us October 1st that enforcement resources would continue to be fully deployed. For people in detention, the government plans to continue deporting on pace.”
So the federal shutdown won’t stop the Obama administration from passing a terrible milestone in the next few weeks: 2 million immigrants deported in the five years since Barack Obama took office–more than any other president.But when it comes to immigrants who are appealing deportation proceedings or requesting asylum, they’re non-essential. “The Executive Office for Immigration Review will likely furlough 70 percent of its 1,339 employees, including those working in the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals,” Lee reported. “Only 153 attorneys will continue to work, meaning that the processing time for immigration cases will be significantly delayed.”